Tuesday, September 09, 2008

FRINGE - J.J. Abrams' new series on Fox

I'm a huge LOST fan. I've never written about it here before because I just don't even know where to start. But I'd argue that it's the best dramatic show ever on television.

So I've been really looking forward to LOST co-creator J.J. Abrams' new show "Fringe". It premiered tonight. If you missed it, don't worry - Fox, as usual for them, is reprising it this Sunday at 8PM. There may be some mild spoilers below, just to warn you.

First of all, Fringe is not LOST. In any sense. It feels different - different directors, different producers, different composer. It's not X-Files, either, which is the other show it's been compared to. It's actually a pretty standard episodic cop show, for the most part - at least the first 2/3 of the first episode was. (The airplane scene that opens the show, which was obviously intended to be weird, played more like the beginning of an episode of House.)

All the cop show cliches were covered - the overbearing chief, the rookie cop who breaks all the rules, the partner in trouble, the outsider who can save the day. There's even a car chase *and* a foot chase! And things that go boom!

The last 10 minutes or so was also pretty brain-dead, in that it had at least two big plot twists that sort of rendered everything else that had happened meaningless.

In between, though, there's about 20 minutes that was pretty good - when you start to get the sense that something big is happening that nobody quite understands. If J.J. Abrams is good at anything, it's creating that sense that events are transpiring in this world he has created that are independent of the show and its characters. He seems to start with a big idea, fleshing it out until he's way off onto the periphery - and that's where he sets his shows. The show then is all about these characters trying to find a way in - but for a while, they're sort of fumbling around without even knowing the scale of what they're dealing with.

At the moment, I can't really see how this is going to last - it took us 1 1/2 seasons of LOST, if I remember right, before we even knew what the Dharma Initiative was. It took all of 45 minutes for us to meet "Massive Dynamics", the obviously evil corporate entity in Fringe. Unless this is all a red herring and Abrams has us set up for some bigger surprises, we might already know too much.

Anna Torv is competent as Olivia Dunham, the main protaganist - and she's obviously intended to have that Naomi Watts thing, which she sort of does. (She is actually Australian too.) Joshua Jackson, who I still confuse with Wes Bentley of "American Beauty", is a little too goofy in his role - he needs to be a little creepier. John Noble plays his father, an insane doctor who practices "fringe science" and could save us all, but unfortunately - and maybe this is just me - I again just can't look at the guy and not see Rip Torn. Seriously, they look almost exactly alike. Lance Reddick, creepy guy from LOST, (over)plays the asshole DHS boss barking orders at everybody.

The show's got potential but it's not there yet. Not the same pattern as LOST, which started out with probably the best pilot anyone's ever going to see. But then as I said, Fringe is not LOST, so maybe it'll eventually find itself. (Har har.) I'll keep watching.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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